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Full text of "Men Of Mathematics"

veins and lodes; it is not a soil, whose fertility can be exhausted
by the yield of successive harvests; it is not a continent or an
ocean, whose area can be mapped out and its contour defined:
it is limitless as that space which it finds too narrow for its
aspirations; its possibilities are as infinite as the worlds which
are forever crowding in and multiplying upon the astronomer's
gaze; it is as incapable of being restricted within assigned
boundaries or being reduced to definitions of permanent
validity, as the consciousness, the life, which seems to slumber
in each monad, hi every atom of matter, in each leaf and bud
and cell, and is forever ready to burst forth into new forms of
vegetable and animal existence.'
In 1878 the American Journal of Mathematics was founded by
Sylvester and placed under his editorship by Johns Hopkins
University. The Journal gave mathematics in the United States
a tremendous urge in the right direction - research. To-day it is
still flourishing mathematically but hard pressed financially.
Two years later occurred one of the classic incidents in
Sylvester's career. We tell it in the words of Dr Fabian Frank-
lin, Sylvester's successor in the chair of mathematics at Johns
Hopkins for a few years and later editor of the Baltimore
American, who was an eye (and ear) witness.
lHe [Sylvester] made some excellent translations from
Horace and from German poets, besides writing a number of
pieces of original verse. The tours deforce hi the way of rhyming,
which he performed while in Baltimore, were designed to illus-
trate the theories of versification of which he gives illustrations
in his little book called The Laws of Verse. The reading of the
Rosalind poem at the Peabody Institute was the occasion of an
amusing exhibition of absence of mind. The poem consisted of
no less than four hundred lines, all rhyming with the name
Rosalind (the long and short sound of the i both being allowed)*
The audience quite filled the hall, and expected to find much
interest or amusement in Hstening to this unique experiment in
verse. But Professor Sylvester had found it necessary to write
a large number of explanatory footnotes, and he announced
that hi order not to interrupt the poem he would read the foot-
notes in a body first. Nearly every footnote suggested some